Thursday, 17 February 2011 16:00Research that was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that individuals who regularly lose and gain weight may end up more susceptible to stress and depression than those who maintain a healthy weight.
Scientists tested their theories on two groups of mice that had been put on restrictive diets and subsequently lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. They found increased levels of stress hormones in the mice's brains and observed that the rodents exhibited depressive behavior.
Furthermore, researchers found that genes regulating stress and eating habits had been altered, a change that remained even after the mice had gained back their weight.
When placed in a stressful situation, these mice also had a tendency to eat more high-fat food than control mice.
"These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but that it may actually reprogram how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food," said Tracy Bale, lead researcher.
Results of the study suggest that healthy eating patterns may reduce stress in individuals. Organizations that wish to reduce workplace stress may therefore be effective in implementing employee wellness programs that focus on nutrition to boost employee performance.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 16:00Research recently conducted at the University of East Anglia suggests that individuals with hypertension tend to follow recommended treatment more accurately when they take part in weekly 20-minute adherence courses.
Scientists examined more than 130 patients with hypertension and found that those who participated in the educational and therapeutic courses took 97 percent of their medications and were able to reduce their blood pressure levels by 14 percent when compared to a control group.
"If adherence therapy were a new drug it would be hailed as a potentially major advance in hypertension treatment," said Professor Richard Gray, the study's lead author.
The adherence courses involved consultation with a trained clinician, who educated the patients on their specific treatment and discussed with them their fears, beliefs and lifestyle.
Authors of the study noted that about 25 percent of the world population has high blood pressure, and that the condition puts a $300 billion strain on the healthcare system.
Additionally, a report on the website Stress.org says that employee absenteeism due to stress costs U.S. companies an estimated $600 per worker every year. That figure could add up to $3.5 million annually for large companies.
Results of the study suggest that organizations that wish to reduce workplace stress and boost employee performance should ensure that workers receive comprehensive employee health benefits that include care and counseling for mental health.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 16:00A study that was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that individuals who show strong emotions like anger or anxiety when under stress may also experience negative physical effects as they appear to be more prone to inflammation.
Researchers measured the emotional and physical response to stress tests in healthy, middle-aged individuals and found that those who reported heightened emotions also had higher levels of specific inflammation markers in their blood.
Results of the study indicate that mental health - which includes emotional responses - may be linked to physical health.
"Our results raise the possibility that individuals who become angry or anxious when confronting relatively minor challenges in their lives are prone to increases in inflammation," said Dr. Judith Carroll, study author.
Employers seeking to cut back on costs stemming from absenteeism and workplace stress may achieve that by implementing employee wellness programs that address stress and anger management. Results of the study suggest that those who are better able to deal with stress mentally also tend to be physically healthier.
Sunday, 13 February 2011 16:00Researchers at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden have conducted a study, which suggests that patients with heart disease may lower their risk of death or heart attack by participating in cognitive behavior therapy for stress management.
For the study, scientists divided 362 individuals who had experienced a coronary heart event during the previous year into two groups: one that took part in 20 two-hour therapy sessions over one year, and another group that received traditional care.
After 94 months, the researchers observed that those who received stress management therapy had a 41 percent lower rate of fatal or non-fatal heart events and a 28 percent lower risk of death.
Results of the study - which was published in Archives of Internal Medicine - suggest that employee wellness programs that focus on stress management tools and resources may be very beneficial to an organization. In addition to keeping workers happy, employers may also curb costs stemming from employee health benefits and absenteeism by implementing wellness programs.
Authors of the study noted that 30 percent of an individual's heart attack risk is psychosocial. This includes socioeconomic status, marital happiness, anger levels and workplace stress.
Thursday, 10 February 2011 16:00Scientists at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan examined the stress levels of doctors at 16 different hospitals. They found that the two biggest sources of anxiety for surgeons are working the night shift and performing long surgeries in which the patient loses excessive amounts of blood.
The doctors were given questionnaires to fill out and their urine was tested for levels of biopyrin, a compound that appears in the body when an individual is under stress.
Results of the study suggest that hospitals should be cognizant of workplace stress and make efforts to boost employee performance and well-being through monitoring of working conditions, especially for those on night duty.
"The present study demonstrated the stress of night duty on surgeons subjectively and objectively. Surgeons' working conditions, including night duty, should be improved to enhance the quality of life for surgeons, resulting in fewer errors in operations and medical treatments and better medical services for patients," said study authors.
Healthcare facilities may also benefit from implementing employee wellness programs that focus on stress relief and healthy sleep patterns to reduce workplace stress.
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